A week after writing about the relationship between dancers and drummers and the importance of knowing your music I saw a most spectacular display of dancers who were the drummers. The 38th Annual Los Angeles Korean Festival sponsored the sponsored the Yeosu City Dance Troup from (South) Korea to perform. Sadly, their time slot was only ½ hour long, because they were amazing.
Although their name (at least as translated) was Yeosu City Traditional Dance, they were also musicians led by a drummer who beat complex rhythms while dancing and spinning a streamer from her head. She was sometimes accompanied by fellow members’ percussive cymbal and flute playing.
The dancers entered fully self sufficient in both creating the music and dancing to it (although they did have accompaniment for most of their time on stage). They had brightly colored skirts that were long and gently moved outward while spinning. Their Janggo* drums were secured over the left shoulder and waist. Using two sticks to play, they incorporated spins and grand arm movements all in concert with each other. Their percussion and timing were perfect so all dancers moved and created rhythms pleasing to the ears and eyes.
So now I’m fascinated with the marriage of dancer and music. That is, when and where do dancers create or accompany the music.
What I have so far under the under the broad umbrella of dancers who create or accompany the music is: dancers who percuss with their feet (Kathak, Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Tap, Flamenco, Aztec), with drums (Korean, Christian tambourine dancers), handheld finger cymbals (Raks Sharqi/Bellydance), castanets (Flamenco), spoons (Turkey), stones (Hula), shells (Polynesia), shakers (Aztec, Hula Uli Uli), sticks and poles (Indian folk, Hawaaiian, Philipine tinikling).
This is where I need your help:
Please like the Facebook page “DanceWithAlia” and comment with more examples of dancers who drum, spoon, rattle, stomp and clack with the music. Or email me at